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tv   Washington Journal  CSPAN  December 17, 2012 7:00am-10:00am EST

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then, james thurber previews the electoral college voting process. then an explanation about the department of homeland security program that gives money to recover from a terrorist incident. "washington journal," is next. [video clip] >> we cannot tolerate this any more. these tragedies must end. we must change, to end them. host: president obama at last night's interfaith prayer vigil in newtown, connecticut, speaking to the community hit by friday's elementary school shootings. it's monday, december 17, 2012. the president offered words of solidarity and state and pledged to use the power of the presidency and to prevent future killings.
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some are asking whether that is an indication on whether he will push for stronger gun control laws. question for you is and should u.s. gun laws change? here are the numbers to call -- you can also find us online. send us a tweet or join the conversation on facebook, or send us an e-mail. our question for you is whether u.s. gun laws should change? here's the headline in "usa today" --
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jumping down into the story, it says -- others are exploring the question of gun laws.
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we will hear some comments from members of congress this morning. congressional democrats are vowing to push for stricter gun control laws. several democratic lawmakers called yesterday for a new push for gun restrictions, including a ban on military-style assault weapons in the wake of the connecticut massacre. democratic senator dianne feinstein is the author of an assault weapons ban that lapsed in 2004. she said she would introduce new legislation soon. senator dick durbin said that lawmakers will hold hearings on gun-control and several others said they would devote attention to the issue. president obama says action is needed. "ere's the store in "usa today -- and the headline of the "washington times" --
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mayor michael bloomberg of new york was on meet the press yesterday. here's his perspective on whether the congress and the president should act. [video clip] >> if you stop people who have psychiatric problems, who have criminal records, substance abuse problems, if you stop every one of them from buying a gun, i cannot promise this articular event would not have taken place, but this particular event is just one of a series that happens again and again. a big chunk of those would have [indiscernible]. it's like saying there's no reason to have speed limits. if congress were to act, if congress were not so afraid of the nra, if they were to stand
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up and do what's right for the american public, we would all be a lot better off. host: mayor michael bloomberg yesterday. our question for you is whether gun laws should change? the wall street journal as the deadline-- -- headline -- now allison from trenton on our independent line. caller: 1 question to be answered is whether or not anybody can put forth a good reason for people to have these guns. give me an example of a time when it has come in handy, or it's been a great thing, where it has worked to the benefit of someone or group of people. why are they needed? if someone can give a positive answer about that, then maybe i would think that the assault weapons are needed. otherwise, i cannot see reason for it. i'm against gun ownership in terms of having assault weapons.
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if you have to have one to protect yourself and home, that's one thing. but rifles that are used for war to have as an everyday weapon makes no sense. host: on twitter -- and here's the new york times --
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let's hear from paul in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, a republican. caller: good morning. i have no problem with extending a ban on assault weapons in these multiple bullet type of things. we have had a ban on assault weapons in the past. it really did not do much. the problem is guns are like drugs. we have drugs in this country and it's illegal for the most
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part, yet people have access to it and people overdose and kill over it. a more important question, and you should broaden your question. you seem to be concentrating only on the guns. i think the access young children have to violent videos is far more a negative influence on them than any guns are. these are the kind of things that lead to these incidents. we need to look at that. we need to take a serious look at how we treat mental illness in this country. we do a terrible job. a number of them are on the streets. these are areas it would behoove you to look into if you want to get a really clear picture of what we need to do. host: yesterday we started off the show by asking whether it was the role of government or society to work on the problem of shootings in america. this morning we are focusing on guns. that's a lot of the focus in the op-ed pages. we will share a lot of those
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editorials with you on how the various commentators are weighing in on this issue. next, david is joining us from florida, an independent caller. caller: good morning. well, i have a comment about another caller that said she was looking for a good example of why we should have these type of weapons. i would like to point to the founding of this country. without proper arms, it leaves our people unable to protect themselves from a tyrannical government. that is the purpose of the second amendment. it has nothing to do with being able to stop a home invader or personal attack. it is to provide protection to this country of the actual people, not the government.
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to just take away assault weapons leaves us on armed as the population. we see what happens time and again around the world. if you look at all the countries around the world that have an unarmed population and look at what happens to them. host: on twitter -- and congressman spoke yesterday about his opinion on guns. [video clip] >> every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns are prohibited. except for one of them. they choose this place. they know that no one will be armed. having been a judge and having to look at photographs of these
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horrific scenes and knowing that children have defensive wounds, gunshots through their arms and hands as they tried to protect themselves, andy reid and heroics stories of the principal lunging, trying to protect them. i wished that she had had an m4 in her office so that she would not have to run with nothing in enhanced but instead takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids. host: representative louie gohmert of texas, a republican, on fox news yesterday. bill bennett, former education secretary, says -- those comments were on meet the press.
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senator dianne feinstein has a different perspective. she says more guns are not the answer. she plans to introduce legislation. a previous assault weapons ban was signed into law in 1994, but it expired. jason is our next caller, washington, d.c., democratic line. caller: hi. i don't think army teachers in the schools is a good idea. that is pretty irrational, considering if you have gun battles, you are exacerbating the whole situation. i think that's a really bad idea. i don't think necessarily you could take away all guns in the country and saba problem. they would just use other weapons, like they have in china, where they go in the classrooms and used swords and knives and start killing people? . that would probably be a bad idea too. so i think it's just education
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and trying to curb things that might influence people from doing such. host: what are some suggestions for that, jason? caller: it's hard to say, because a variety of people get into a variety of situations. whatever it is causes them to do things like that. better time spent talking to your kids, more money spent on mental health, things of that nature, i would say. otherwise, you are just point to end up with these situations occurring again. host: here's a story from cnn's talking about this recent attack where a man wielding a knife entered a school. injured 22 children and adults was also wounded. some of those kids are in critical condition. no deaths. does that make a difference to you?
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caller: certainly. i really don't know what you can do in a situation like that. if you look at gun-control laws such as in phoenix, arizona, where they have certain laws, it has not gone up. but in states where they have pretty severe gun-control laws, you don't see it affecting much. so it's hard to say if gun- control laws is the answer. it may not be. i don't think banning assault weapons will do any good, because then they would just use rifles or pistols. host: is a story from the evening sun --
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john in new jersey, republican. caller: good morning. i'm 85 years old. i have a partial solution to the problem. if you take gasoline and there's a gasoline shortage, therefore less driving and less accidents occur. if you do that with bullets, people should have to have a background check when they purchase bullets. the bullets should only be available to certain people. without bullets, nobody will be
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able to fire a gun. that's a solution. host: looking to more at connecticut gun laws and how they rank. antonio, miami, democratic line. do you think gun laws should change? caller: yes, i do. i feel like this. i find barack obama as being very hypocritical. pointy white kids got killed is the reason -- 20 white kids. in illinois there is one of the worst gang murders in the country. black kids being killed every
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day in the united states. lived in miami. it's one of the worst crime cities in the country. but i never hear anything about it. the only thing i hear is every time something happens to a white kid. its national news, it's big news. let's talk about all kids, not just the white kids. host: a tweet -- let's hear more from the commander-in-chief in newtown, connecticut, yesterday addressing the cause of what happened on friday. [video clip] >> these tragedies must end. to end them, we must change. we will be told that the causes of such violence are complex and that's true. no single law or set of laws can
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eliminate people from the world or prevent every senseless acts of violence in our society. but that cannot be an excuse for inaction. surely we can do better than this. if there is even one step we can take to save another child or another parent or another town from the grief that visited tucson and aurora and oak creek and newtown, and communities from t communitieso blacksburg before that, surely we have an obligation to try. host: that was president obama speaking last night. we're asking whether you think u.s. gun laws should change. here's what patricia writes on facebook --
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you can join the conversation on our facebook page. lawmakers called for introducing a ban on assault guns. this is in the wall street journal. you can see images of a variety of guns. everything from the glock found at newtown imposition of the shooter and a semi-automatic assault weapon and a variety of guns. van is our next caller in memphis, on our democrat line. should gun laws change? caller: they should change
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assault weapons. this is for the military. what is a a 55-year-old lady going to do with an assault weapon? they need to be banned. when this president got elected, they started buying guns like crazy, like he was going to take away their guns. he never said anything for the full you are years about assault weapons. they should change. assault weapons need to go. host: let's go to frank in beverly, new jersey, on our republican line. good morning. it's a great show. i really enjoy c-span. i want to make some comments about this issue. first, i want to say i'm really sorry for what happened. you can write all the gun laws you want and put all the gun laws on the books that you want. there are over 30,000 of them right now currently.
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you are not going to stop what happened in these schools by more gun laws. in order to stop this chaos and all this terrible stuff, you are going to have to do a lot more for the family unit in this country, because the family unit in this country is so broken now, it's pathetic. you have kids that have no mother, kids that have no father, broken families, violence in the family, everything. these kids are sick. anybody's right mind, other than being mentally deranged, how you could walk into a grade school and shoot little kids. i want to say another thing. i'm pro-guns. i get tired of hearing comments
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bandied about on the news about assault rifles. assault rifles are a military rifle that can have a switch on it that can shoot one round at a time or full auto. these rifles they are talking about are semi-automatic rifles. they are the most common firearms used in the country today. host: do you think there should be any kind of limits? do you support any kind of gun laws? caller: no, absolutely. i do, background checks. host: which retains the current gun laws to make them more level or tighter? caller: where i live in new jersey, it takes on the average six months to get a pistol permit. you are not going to stop
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people like this guy that did this. i'm not trying to make excuses so fire arms can stay available to the people. like me, i belong to a club and we do a lot of target shooting. this is not going to stop. -- you can't legislate morality in people. host: on twitter -- what the you think, greg, in
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silver spring, maryland, democratic line? caller: good morning. many callers are complaining gun laws will not have an impact because of laws don't have an impact and so on. what i propose is that the government firmly wraps around gun ownership heavy bureaucracy and very expensive taxes. i know that probably will infuriate most of the gun owners , but we somehow have to make it a customized privilege in this country to own a gun. host: is that fair? should only be left to those who have a lot of money and can be very persistent in waiting for? caller: i will say it would be like buying a car, but it would be an investment. maybe $1,600 or $2,000. for the people like the sportsman, if they really like
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guns so much and they will invest all this money on the gun itself, then let's add some bureaucracy, taxes, and make it a little bit more strenuous. host: here is the washington post front page -- let's listen more to the president's comments last night. [video clip] >> in the coming weeks i will use whatever power the office holds to engage my fellow citizens in law enforcement, mental health professionals, parents and educators, in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. because what choice do we have?
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we can't accept events like this as routine. are we really prepared to say that we are powerless in the face of such carnage, that politics are too hard? are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year, are somehow the price of our freedom? host: president obama speaking last night. do you think u.s. gun laws should change? don in ohio, democratic caller. caller: good morning. i really like your show. host: what do you think about gun laws? caller: when you have a problem, you have to get to the main center of the problem. the problem is these children are getting shot and killed and
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it's happening all over the place. what would deter someone from doing that? every school in the u.s. should have a police officer stationed at each school. it should be funded by the federal government. if the federal gdansk to do something, they need to step up and put an officer in every school. had there been an officer, there would not been near as many people killed as there was ample might not have even been anybody. i have sat on the school board's 12 years and i also sit on a board of trustees for a college. they need to really look at what the problem is and what we can do to fix it. we have all kind of mental health issues here. if in ohio we used to have a mental hospital in cincinnati called longview. the state shut it down and turn people loose. they're out on the street and don't get their medication would they need it. if you have a problem when people come in like this, how would you feel safe?
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if you had a police officer stationed right there. don't give teachers guns. we should leave our gun laws the way they are, but i think we should have a professional person thee that knows how to fight somebody that comes in like that. host: what part of ohio you live in? caller: a little town called blanchester. host: what about malls, movie theaters, places of worship, should they have armed guards? caller: it's getting to the point today that you might need that. and churches. some of the people in our church, they take our offerings and lay it up front. i say that's an invitation for someone to rob the church. i say you should take the offering and walk its -- lock it up. i believe in concealing carry. i have a concealed and carry. when people have a concealed carry, somebody at that
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school might have been able to deter this. if the federal government wants to help the schools, they should give the funding. they need to fund -- every school in the united states should be funded with money from the federal government so there can be a full-time police officer on staff in every building in every school of the united states. host: on twitter -- president obama talk about meaningful action last night. on the washington post, they're asking what does that mean?
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the wall street journal has an opinion piece as well responded to the shootings in connecticut.
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herman is an independent caller in louisiana. what's your opinion? caller: when you have a gun free zones, you advertise to these mentally ill people that there's nobody there that is armed and nobody can stop them. an intruder with a gun. host: what would you do? caller: i would have the teachers have concealed weapons carry permits and to have the proper training or to have the federal government supplies the money to have a trained police officer at the school's. 20,000 gun laws on the books already and that did not stop anything with the school killings. it is a tragic thing. it is a terrible thing. but we should not have to give up our constitutional right because of these tragedies. all these politicians are doing is capitalizing on this terrible
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tragedy to take constitutional rights away from the american people. hitler took away the guns from the people in germany. you saw the results. host: what about other kinds of gun laws? you talked about farming and officer -- arming an officer, some type of official presence in schools, but what about a bill to ban assault weapons? caller: it used to be and i'm getting mixed -- are they going to bring up banning semi- automatic rifles? there were not been used in the crime, from what i understand. host: good morning to lois, a republican. caller: it is the people we have to worry about. it is mental illness.
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families recognize their children as they are growing up. if that could be curtailed, i know they would hate to put them in a mental institution. i would, too, because they love their child just the same. but those children that grow up with mental illness, it does not matter how they get it, they are going to get weapons of some sort. it is not the guns that the problem, it's the people. they have to collect those mentally ill people. host: would you lock them all up? caller: no. you hear about doctors. i don't know quite, but that is what the problem is, mental illness. they have to control the people with mental illness. families recognize it. all the parents of the people people,e been killeing
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the parents recognized it. they knew they had a problem. host: some comments we read earlier, this opinion piece in the wall street journal talked about updating federal firearms laws as they relate to mentally ill. would you change the laws to make it harder for the mentally ill to get guns? caller: it ought to be -- i don't know how, but somebody ought to study this and find out how to keep these out of mentally ill people's -- they need care. they don't need hold of a gun or a car. one boy was buried yesterday because of a car and alcohol. the mentally ill need to be worried about and not the guns. host: let's listen to what senator joe lieberman, an independent, of connecticut has said. he's about to wrap up his time
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in the senate. he was on fox news on sunday, grappling with some of the issues you are talking about. [video clip] >> i think we need a national commission on mass violence, not to be in place of anything else the president or congress or state governments might want to do, but to make sure that the hard pretend anger that we feel now does not dissipate over time or lost in legislative gridlock. this reminds me of the days and weeks after the terrorist attacks against us in 9/11. at one point, john mccain and i turned to each other and said we cannot let this go, we've got to create a national commission to investigate exactly the questions you're asking about this time, how could this have happened, and is there anything we can do to try to prevent this from happening again? host: senator lieberman
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yesterday on fox. this -- emily is our next caller in washington, d.c., on our democrat line. , , those people wanting to put a policeman in every school in the country, i'm guessing there are a million schools in this country, so you have to find a million well- trained, competent policemen to stand for eight or 10 hours at a school every day? you cannot pay them that much. it would be a lot better to find a competent social worker or a psychiatrist to help with the mentally ill. having more guns and schools, that is just the first want the
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guy would kill is the security guard. and then what? you have just added one more death. the solution, i think, that moynihan said, tax the ammunition so that it's so expensive you cannot buy it. and if you have it, the penalty should be jail. you cannot allow this to continue. these guns that you have, what are these things for except for killing people? that's all i have to say. host: jerry is our next caller in tennessee on our independent line. caller: i really feel for that
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lady. she is really frustrated and she is like most americans. but i want to call the viewer's attention, if they would do a search for shooting and lockdown at east tennessee high-school. right here within 8 miles of where i am right now, august 30, 2010, we had an exact same situation. we had a sheriff's department that had an armed school resource officer that the guy came in with the gun and they took him down, literally. that was the end of him. -- her. the only interest was that officer named carolyn. the outcome was very good. i'm sure she's having a tough time dealing with it. we have 88 million gun owners in
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this country. you cannot take up the guns. and they will not stand for you taxinf them. -- taxinig them. only thing we can do is protect the children. -- they are not going to stand for you taxing the guns. and thank you for c-span. host: here is a story that our last caller referred to. in ripley, tennessee, it says --
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led scotus and john in georgia on our democrat line. john.t's go to caller: good morning. at what point is a sane person deemed insane? most crimes of this type, the person is not deemed insane until after the fact. think is the federal amendment is a federal statute. i fully support it. there should be a federal law governing the right to bear arms.
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it is the ultimate privilege, according to the national rifle association, to keep and bear arms. along with that comes the ultimate responsibility. for the miss us, there should be the ultimate penalty -- the misuse. host: one of our callers earlier talked about the mentally ill and the concerns that she had and wanting them not to maybe even own a car. caller: well, if someone is deemed to be mentally ill, there should be restrictions on them. at what point do they become mentally ill? everyone is deemed insane until some point that they go awry. host: in leesburg on our independent line, lori. caller: i agree with some of the other callers that if you
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control ammunition, you control this mess. no more than you can walk into a place of business and by a hand grenade android into movie theater. once you start to control ammunition, you get control over who it hits. people don't have any respect anymore for life. so it's not just about mentally ill. it's our neighbors, it is the divorcee, it's the football player. we have to look at the mentally ill, but we have to look at people. people just don't care anymore about who they kill. if we are born to talk about weapons and controls and stuff like this, we need to talk about how to control weaponry. that starts with ammunition. host: on twitter -- al in watertown, tennessee, republican caller. caller: the topic is should u.s.
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gun laws change? they have changed. before 1968 and the gun control act of 1968, no one had a background check. there was no restriction whatsoever. if you could order direct mail as long as your check cleared, they will send you a semi- automatic magazine clips and a pistol or rifle directly to your post office box. gun laws have changed. i defy anyone to look at the school shooting of 1968 or prior and fined one. -- find one. you have to define the problem before you can fix the issue. it is something other than guns. gun laws have become more restrictive after the 1968 gun laws, the control act. and we have had mourned more mass shootings. so it's not the guns and gun laws. they have already changed. it is something else in society. and so, the idea that you are going to restrict my freedoms
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and my rights because something else is happening is not an american solution here that's not the way we do things. it may sound good on tv, but it does not work. host: there's this headline in the financial times -- you can see people in newtown, connecticut, yesterday, at a memorial. richardson,diana in texas, on our independent line. caller: thank you for listening. hi. i think what people are failing to understand is that we are dealing with human nature. we need to have some kind of education in this country that tells parents it's all right to get your child helps. help. i think a lot of people know if
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they have a dangerous child. i think this woman knew what her son was like hands she bought the guns. she never should have had guns in our house. this goes way back. i live in texas and i'm used to the wild wild west. this is not new. there used to be people that shot up everything quite regularly. and for no good reason. but human nature is to cover up for your loved ones. you have to be the perfect parents who raises the perfect child. that just does not exist. there has to be some kind of decreasing the stigma that you can get your child health. it's not going to do any good. gun laws are words written on paper by people who would not shoot anybody. the people that would shoot anybody are not calling to listen to these laws. they don't care. so i think we have a lot of education to do.
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we have laws in place. any kind of gun, any situation, there should be a check. they are supposed to check these people out and they don't. a lot of people just want to sell, they want the money. we need to get stricter with them. they need some kind of checks and balances. but i don't think there is. we write this thing on paper, but we don't go out to see that they do it. host: a couple other stories in the news before we move on. in "washington times" -- senator john kerry is expected
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to be the choice of president obama to be nominated for secretary of state. in the wall street journal, there's a story asking if that happens, what happens next? you can see some images here of folks who might be interested in the position, should senator john kerry been nominated and vacate his senate seat. a couple other stories in the news, looking at the negotiations going on over the fiscal cliff. we talk about this yesterday. republicans put forth a tax rate
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increase plan on millionaires. the wall street journal looks at how millionaire's tax increase might work. the white house says the plan is not good. congress is in session this week. the house is in all week long. majority leader eric cantor has said they will be here on the weekend if they need to be. he's not ruling out a weekend session. senator kay bailey hutchison of texas is leaving the senate. one last story looking at the news, the u.s. is planning to shift its afghan strategy. the u.s. military in
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afghanistan will shift its focus next year from fighting the taliban to supporting afghan forces. this could allow a sizable cuts in the 66,000 strong u.s. troop contingent over the spring and summer. a couple final comments on our question of whether gun laws could change -- should change? doug with the last word from pensacola, florida, republican. caller: good morning. first, there is a 100% correlation between where all these massacres are taking place and the blue states. we're not finding any of these massacres taking place in states that are heavily republican or heavily conservative. they are all taking place in
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states that voted heavily for obama in this last election which are typically democratic strongholds. second, the presence of these guns historically has never led to massacres. in the early part of the century, in 1911 they came out with the first semi-automatic handgun, and it is still the weapon of choice for special operations folks as well as target shooters. you could buy it back in those days for $5. they were everywhere. my dad still has his. back then we did not have school students going on, even though you could buy a semi-automatic for $5. host: thanks for all of your calls. next we will turn our attention to the fiscal cliff and what it could mean for federal employees. unions are pushing hard to preserve federal jobs in the fiscal cliff deal. more about that would jacqueline simon.
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later, you thought the election of 2012 was over. not yet. the electoral college is meeting at noon today to make another step forward in the process of getting the president into his second term. we will hear more from the american university professor james thurber. we will leave you with more comments from president obama last night in newtown, connecticut, at the interfaith prayer vigil. [video clip] >> we gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. they lost their lives in a school that could of been any school, in a quiet town full of good and decent people. it could be any town in america. here in newtown, i have come to offer the love and prayers of the nation. i am very mindful that mere
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words cannot match the depth of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. i can only hope it helps for you to know that you are not alone in your grief, that our world too has been torn apart, that all across this land of ours we with you and pulled our children tight. you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide. whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you this heavy load, we will gladly bear it.
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newtown, you're not alone. >> "washington journal" continues. host: jacqueline simon is public policy director for the american federation of government employees. thanks for being here. guest: thanks for having me. our organization is the largest federal employee union. we also represent d.c. government workers. we represent people from across the spectrum in the federal government. we represent border patrol agents, we represent health-care workers in the department of veterans affairs, civilian workers in the problem of defense, security administration, epa, hud, you name it, and the federal government, we represent. host: the fiscal cliff, how big affair under negotiations brewing or if things go for it with the sequestration. here are the numbers to call. and we have a line set up for
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federal employees. what does the fiscal cliff mean to federal police? guest: all the things that have preceded this so-called crisis have meant a lot to federal police. federal employees have already sacrificed tremendously to demands for deficit-reduction. leaving aside whether deficit reduction is desirable or necessary, federal employees have already been forced to give up $103 billion worth of compensation. that is certainly the context in which we are absolutely demanding that not another penny come out of this work force. federal employees have had a two-year pay freeze, which was extended an additional pre months.
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federal employees hired after january 1, 2013 will pay four times more for their pension benefits. just in case anybody is trying to think about a lot of the false rhetoric that has been tossed around in this town about federal employees' compensation, the fact of the matter if is 96% of private- sector workers who have a pension like the federal government, they pay zero. now the new employees will pay a 41 times more. we have already given up $103 billion in compensation. host: sequestration, the across- the-board cuts that could come into effect unless congress and the white house act, which could mean for federal workers if their workplaces have cuts or other agencies? could they lose their jobs or could it take a pay cut? guest: there are various
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scenarios for federal employees. potentially all of them are bad. badestration i ons one scenario. the most detailed forecast for what really will happen in the agencies was produced by the democrats of the house appropriations committee. norm has a pretty good estimate based on the omb numbers for the kinds of job cuts and furloughs that we might see on an agency by agency basis. a little more than half of all these cuts go to the department of defense. then the other half are spread to the other agencies although the department of veterans affairs is exempt. right now there's a lot of uncertainty about exactly how sequestration cuts would be implemented. it is in our interest to make
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sure if that sequestration occurs, that all the cuts don't fall on federal employees. the contractor work force, employed by the federal agencies, nobody really knows, but the problem is larger and costlier than the federal workforce. there is no practical reason and no economic reason why all those cuts should fall on the federal employees. at least a proportional share should fall on contractors. so we are telling our members that in the event of unpaid work days that exceed 22 work days, which if you do the math, it's almost inevitable that sequestration would amount to more than 22 days, but they need to get information from their agency on the contractor workforce. right now there's a law that requires federal agencies to
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compile an inventory of their contractor work force. to know its size and cost and what it's doing. we know all those things about the federal employees. we want to know that if the cuts happen, they are spread fairly and not all the burden is placed on federal employees. host: jacqueline simon is with the american federation of government employees. ken is a federal employee in washington, our first caller. caller: hi. the president has already said there will not be sequestration. its attitude of the agency they are not planning for it. the defense department said they were going to start. what can you do to encourage agencies to actually provide information? host: what kind of integration are you getting? are you hearing anything from your employer about what could be in the future? caller: no. guest: it is very frustrating
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and insulting to be kept in the dark like that. unfortunately, that is the position of a fellow employees have found themselves in, being told it's not going to happen. i said earlier that sequestration is only one bad scenario. if you look at some of the proposals that are in these grand bargain, in these deals, to avoid sequestration, they are at least as bad if not worse for federal employees than sequestration would be, which is not to say i'm advocating sequestration,. by no means. attention, a lot of and justly, on the idea that the people practicing the budget brinksmanship really want to cut social security benefits. they really want to cut medicare benefits. much less and attention has been paid to the part of the
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package which is enormous. $400 billion over 10 years for federal employees, that includes extending the pastries five years, turning the federal employees this is a huge, huge cut because basically, it shift the cost for health insurance from the employer on to federal employees so that now, federal employees pay about 30% of the premium. 20 years from now, if costs continue to rise the way they have in the past 20 years, federal employees will be paying 80% of their insurance costs and massive cuts to federal retirement. that's what really sticks in their craw. they hate the fact that employees have any kind of secure retirement program at all. they would charge them for the more benefit, about 5% of salary more and dallasly cut it. that's one possibility.
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some are or all of those proposals pay be some of a grand deal versus sequestration that could be anywhere from 20 to 30 to 40 days depending on how many people are exempt from seek sequestration. and that's enormous too. we're only year one in this mess. these 10-year cuts. i would also add that's $100 billion split between d.o.d. and other agencies. even bigger cuts are probably inevitably going into effect in 2013, $78 billion of cuts was part of the spending caps was part of this budget control acts. so it's every which way you look, it's pretty much bad news for federal employees and we would like to stop the whole thing. host: talk us to who the federal
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employees are. department of defense was over 760,000 employees. agriculture, 92,000. education for the health and human services, close to 90,000. we get those numbers are the bureau of labor statistics, giving us a sense of the breath of the federal employees and what they do. guest: right. one of the problems that al gets very little attention is the fact that most if not all of the federal employees do is required by law. it's required by statue. the mission of the agencies, the obligations of the agencies are set forth in law. and just because you cut funding for the -- agents to carry out
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those responsibilities, nobody is carrying out those responsibilities. they're just trying to cut funding for carrying out social responsibilities. and if history is any guide, what federal agencies do is they replace them with private contractors. we have a lot of painful experience that shows us over and over again that that is a really defeating met of saving money because -- method of saving money because contractors cost about twice as much. that's what they pay when they contract out government work. so we are very, very concern that federal employees be replaced by contractors. that just creates or perpetuates all these budget pressures and if not exacerbates them. host: let's hear from bruce, a republican. hi, bruce. host: i think it's rather
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interesting that the representative is against -- move private contractors come booing the mix. when the studies were undertaking that those studies found exactly what they were looking for was inefficiencies of those people, but i've had some experience working with federal workers and stuff and i think that the bottom line is nobody should have a social security and doing it with the possibility of being let go if they don't. i think if there's a lot of money spent needlessly, people have studied it and studies just like that saying how inefficient government can be. big government is not the answer. that's probably the biggest jobs program in our country and it needs to be reined in. host: well, i don't know what to say -- guest: well, these studies are not produced by our union. they're produced by independent objective third parties who
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merely look at the data. i am certainly not suggesting that government contractors are paid less than federal employees. in fact, they're paid a lot more. you know, one of the ideas that we have proposed if agencies are really interested in saving money is to lower the cap on contractor executive compensation. right now, taxpayers can reimburse contractors for $76300 for their most lavishly paid executive. that number for 2011, they haven't released the number for 2012 yet, but that was a 10% increase for the highest paid contractors that occurred while federal employee pay was frozen. again, reputable experts have estimated about $55 billion in potential savings from bringing that if we had a policy to bring that cap down to the amount that
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cabinet secretaries earn, $200,000 a year. contractors could continue to pay their employers as lavishly as they want to but taxpayers will be on the hook for $200 contractors. again, set according to the pay of cabinet secretaries. so there are certainly a lot of money to be saved from contractors. host: the congressional budget office did look on federal pay. here are what it found. for those who have a high school degree, they earn 21% more on the federal payroll than they do in the private sector. however, you have a professional degree or a doctorate, they earn 33% less by working for the federal government than they would in the private sector. guest: it's sort of riding on the coattails of a lot of
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right-wing think tank studies that try to make the case that federal employees are overpaid. the way the federal pay system set pay is to do job to job comparisons with the private sector. they don't look at the demographics. they don't say ok, how much are women paid in the private sector and how much women should be paid in the federal government? that's what the kolb study said. they took a look and if we compiled a federal workforce with the same demographics as our own current workforce and paid that workforce exactly what average pay for those demographic criteria paid in the private sector how much money could we save if we -- it doesn't reproduce the pace of the private sector. african-americans are paid less than whites, that women are paid less than men, but in the federal government, because we pay according to job duties, not according to demographic
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criteria, we don't have that kind of discrimination and the only way to produce a study that shows that employees are overpaid is to rely on this extremely dubious, if not misleading kind of analysis that says if the private sector pays people with high school education, regardless of what work they're performing for the federal government, they should only get the same amount of pay in people from whatever private sector group be it race or gender. it's purely for scoring political points. host: let's go to sandra in smith station, alabama, democratic line. host: good morning. i am a proud social worker and i guess what i want to say is i am taking proactive steps right now
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to get -- seek employment that is non-questable. i left that agency and i'm trying to go back essentially because this agency from top to bottom is going to be non-sequesterable if this actually happened. host: you mean it wouldn't get hit with cuts? host: that's correct, lib yay. if this goes over, this is one of the few agencies that have been deemed from top to bottom. i work in the legal office and our people are not able to tell us based on the meetings we've had, i just find this unfathomable that they don't know whether our jobs are going to be affected. either they're not telling us or they just, you know, honestly don't know. so that's my concern. i have the benefit in that i am
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highly mobile. so i don't have to stay with this agency and i'm working aggressively right now. i'll take a lower grade if i have to get in with this agency because i can't wait, you know, for them to tell us. i mean, maybe that's a little -- maybe i'm being a little paranoid, but i'm just like we had these meetings weekly, and although they're telling us is your jobs are sea. what we do is very important. well, what everybody does is important so my question to your guest would be if this thing happens, are people going to be paid like a severance? do you have to be out of work for x number of days? just curious as to how that works. and do you believe that the agencies know and are just being instructed not to give us this information. guest: well, thank you for calling and i really appreciate your describing your work. i think so people understand, really, what federal employees
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do. i'm guessing that you work for the department of veterans affair. that's the only major department that is exempt from sequestration. but the department of veteran affairs is not exempt from other kinds of cuts that are going forward, the spending cap cuts and the cuts to federal employee compensation. you know, i think few people realize, for example, that all of is -- all of this negotiation, how it would affect someone like a nursing assistant. you say you work in a legal office and of course, why should your pay be cut either? but a nursing assistant in the department of veteran affairs make something in the $24,000 range. you know, asking that person to take an additional three years of pay freeze for a total five years in pay freeze, cutting her pension benefits by 37%, you know, we haven't even talked
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about the so-called chained c.p.i., cutting the colas, that will be affecting the federal employees and as pensioners when they retire. these are passive -- massive cuts to a very modestly paid people's standard of living. likewise, if sequestration goes forward for non-exempt employees and it's not just your agency. there are many agencies. the department of homeland security, hud, e.p.a., department of labor, social security administration, h.h.s. all of these agencies, management will have a tremendous amount of discretion to decide how to implement these cuts. furloughs are almost inevitable. some people will be exempt and some people will be affected which is why we're asking our members to demand to bargain over this so we get a plan. host: let's hear from harley from florida, an independent caller. where are you calling from?
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caller: it's right in the jacksonville, florida, area. host: thanks for coming along. caller: miss simon, you know your subject very well, and i appreciate that, however, the federal government is borrowing 40% of the federal budget and a lot of that's being eaten up in wages. i have a suggestion. the homeland security probably should have never been formed and the department of education is really a state and local issue. so if you were really -- if you are really willing to compromise and go back to a 0-base budget, if you eliminated those two, we would be back to a balanced budget in four years. host: let's look at the homemade employment budget in four years. caller: well, we don't have a time here to discuss whether or not the federal government
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should have customs in border protection, borte patrol, should have transportation security, administration, these are all important security functions which at least the congress has decided that it is important for the federal government to perform. our economy is so depressed. it's not because we are spending too much on unimportant functions of the federal government. a big chunk of the current deficit is because we have such high unemployment that fewer people are paying taxes. tax revenue is down. the other big chunk are what economists call automatic stabilizers, increases in food stamp cost, unemployment insurance. more people going on disability, more medicaid costs. these are the kinds of temporary
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changes in the deficit which is why it's so big right now. and it's a good thing that it's big because it's helping to keep us out of recession. a worse recession. host: let's hear it from phillip, a federal employee from albany, georgia. hi, phillip. host: good morning. i am an afge employee along with the d.o.d. guest: thanks for your membership. host: my main concern is being so secure as a federal employee, first of all, that's one of the perks of the job. you work hard to get to that position to become federal. you know, i speak for all d.o.d. employees. we have not had a raise. we had a pay freeze for four years. and it's going to continue again . you know, that's really not fair to us. you know, gas is going up. cost of living is going up. so really, you know, we're hurting just as much as the
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private sector. >> can't say it enough time that federal employees are the only group of americans who made any kind of sacrifice to the budget deficit. and you at d.o.d. know also that there's not this pure security for federal employees. federal employees are constantly being threatened with contracting out. contractors are very well organized politically and put tremendous pressure on lawmakers and agency officials to convert work performed by federal government employees to contract even if it costs more which it almost always does. host: jackie simon is public policy director of american employees, a union that represents more than 670,000 federal employees in columbia. the "washington times" has front
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page story saying complaining but not quitting. federal workers choose security despite depp pid job satisfaction and it looks as satisfaction in the workplace. it differs dramatically from agency to agency and department to department. caller: yeah, i assume this is a story -- guest: yeah, i assume this is a story about the employment satisfaction survey. if you look at the answers to the specific questions that are asked, you see federal employees, although they are very proud to be government employees and they are patriotic and they feel strongly about their public service mission, they're also demoralized.
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they're tired of being the target of such criticism, so many false accusations about their work ethic and the quality of their work and whether or not they're very, very modest salaries are excessive. and so when you see dissatisfaction, what you're really seeing are people who are tired of being under sieged. tired of being blamed for economic crisis that they had to role what ever in -- whatsoever in creating. host: here is mike from san diego, california. guest: good morning. real quick question. i do air traffic control. with a do you think they'll do with the sequester as far as their traffic controllers? guest: i wish i could tell you. i've seen the same numbers you have. 20,000 people furloughed. they're going to provide as much coverage as they can so different people could be furloughed different days.
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host: ray, in iowa, democrats line. host: morning, ladies. earlier, one of the callers made a statement about federal workers having their jobs. they come to work, they didn't have to do their jobs and they couldn't be fired. nothing's further from the truth. the only way that someone's job cannot be fired is they have an i.p. -- income tent boss. if they do something wrong or they're not doing their job, all their supervisor has to and is document it. i'm a retired postal worker and there's nobody that cannot be fired. there is a point -- the other point i like to make is this absurdity about overpayment.
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the private sector equal jobs i know i was a postal worker. the private sector people, fedex, u.p.s., they all make more money. i don't care. that's fine. but don't tell me that i don't earn my money. i work with people every day and there's not a person in this country who hasn't worked with somebody that they depart think they were a better worker tan they were than the guy next to them. you know, go do your job. do the best you can. we have to have libby wade's job who can't compare the private sector contractor, especially in defense where they can move the factory, they can move the business to the south, low wakes, they undercut another contractor who pays a living age and they pay just like the lady was saying the compensation for the high end people is ridiculous. cut those jobs.
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cut the fat. cut the waste. we never want to touch defense. i'm a veteran. so i go by saying that i'm talking out my wrong side, you know, defense is the biggest waste there is on money. we are spending money money on defense. host: ray, you have brought up a lot. let's get jackie to address some of the issues. guest: well said. especially how federal employees are paid and whether or not federal employees can be removed for failure to perform. i think that when you get these calls about some people who complain that federal employees can't be fired, what you're hearing is the difference between life under a union contract when workers organize into a union and have the right to due process when supervisors decide they want to terminate them, they should only be terminated for cause.
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cause includes they don't have any work for them to do anymore or a cause of worker's work. in a join work environment, if the boss wants to fire you, he has to have a reason. he has to have a reason. you have to either failed to perform or there's no more work for you to perform. and a private sector without a union, they can hire you for any reason or no reason. i would submit that every worker, not just government workers, every private sector worker should form a union to make sure they're not just an at-will employer either. host: a couple of comments on twitter. --
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guest: well, i'm going to put this in a bigger context. this whole budget debate is based on a very, very false premise that what americans should care about is making sure that no worker has a decent standard of living or a rising standard of living, god forbid or any kind of economic stability while working or in retirement. that's why they're so focused on cutting social security benefits and so focused on cutting medicare. but i think that the earlier caller the postal worker made a very good point. if the federal government a leader or a laggard in the race to the bottom? thanks to our union, i would like to say, we haven't been a leader. we are a laggard as we should be.
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private sectors through cutting pay or eliminating health insurance benefits or retirement benefits, that's not a model we should try to emulate in the federal government. we need to turn that race around, not just for education but for living standards for americans. not a race to the bottom. host: up next, patrick on our republicans line. hi, a trick. you're talking with jackie simon. caller: yes, i have a simple question or observation. i work in advertising. i make about $85,000 a year. i pay my own pension. and why is it that i have to pay other people's mentions, simply put. i'll all for paying, you to know, the good salaries, do the police, the fireman, even politicians. but not into their pension and i mean, this is what agalls me.
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i have to pay somebody else's pension knowing my own which is meager. i have no recourse. if you work for the federal government, you have all these guarantees, excuse me, institutions that people are guaranteed something. i'm not guaranteed something if my employer doesn't make money, neither do i. and i'll take your comments off the air. thank you. guest: well, i think that what you see and apparently, you don't approve of is the fact that there's always in the private sector or public sector, it doesn't matter. there's a pot of money employers very for paying employees. some of it go to salary, some go to retirement or they can all go to salary. workers when they sat down at the table and were told by their employers how big that pot of money was, how do you want to allocate it, they have chosen to defer some of their compensation
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to retirement benefits. sounds like your employer either hasn't given you that choice or, you know, for whatever reason has put it all in salary. federal employees have through their representatives and we don't bargain over our retirement and health insurance. this is all in statue, but it's the same kind of thing. we have told lawmakers no, we don't want all of your compensation in salary. we want some of it deferred when we retire. we don't want it to create individual retirements and we want to pull all of our deferred income into a pension plan. we think that's the most efficient and most effect and most secure way for all of us federal employees together to save for retirement. so it's really just a question of allocation and federal employees have allocated some of their compensation to retirement. host: michael tweets in and says
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-- can you make the distinction for us? guest: yeah, it's not all, by any standard. the step increases are available in the very early stages of a federal employee's career on an annual basis and they are totally a function of performance. they're sort of a recognition of good performance and employees gaining experience and skill while they're in the job. after the first couple of years, they're eligible for these stepping increases. and once they to get a journeyman level, they're not visible eligible for many more. then they can get a step increase as a special reward for extraordinary performance. we call it a quality step increase. a lot of please, sir do this kind of thing. you get a little bump in recognition for good performance and experience the longevity. so that's what the step increases are.
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host: georgia is a federal worker in limestone, new york. hi, george. caller: yeah. i'm an a.f.g.e. member also and i just -- caller: thanks for calling. >> this federal worker bashing is getting overboard. you hear it on the news and everything. i work for the bureau presence and my pay is conferred, three years now. you know, they have done reduction and forces and i think if people really just sit back and and their homework, i'm under first retirement which congress had taken from the civil service retirement system and moved us to defer back in the 1980's. i've been doing this for 20-something years now and there's a difference. i mean, we do contribute to our retirement, my health care is a lot more than my wife pays. i pay $400 a month.
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that doesn't include dental or eye. people really have got to look back and do their homework before they start bashing the fellow workers. i'll take my comments off the air and thank you. guest: thank you for calling. you know, our corrections officers in the bureau of prison, you know, i don't think any federal employee deserves bashing but if you think about the very difficult and dangerous job correction officers perform on all of our behalf, guarding us against dangerous criminal who is have been incarcerated, they think price about complaining about their very, very modest compensation. earlier in the show, we talked a the house appropriation committee. the democrat projections on furloughs.
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it's just going to lead to more violence on the prisons, more difficulty in an already incredibly difficult job that by i think any standard is underpaid, undercompensated. so i'm sorry you're having to go through this. i'm sorry for all of us if that's the way we treat our corrections officer. host: one of our followers on twitter tweets this -- let's look at a story from the "baltimore sun" -- the federal k force. as the fiscal cliff looms, two into one piece congressman has a message for those looking for cutting the federal workplace for saving -- looked as of that. texas, democrats' line. caller: he was -- how were you
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doing? i've retired with a dot and -- and now they merged it all with the exchange. these people calling in -- a lot of us were kind of like forced to retire. i was a union steward. we were kind of forced to retire will we get a certain age because what they're trying to do, try to weed out all the people who have been there since the private sector and people from the outside are always citing federal employees -- i only made $39,000 after 20 years of service. we do not make a lot of money. cutting cost of living rage -- wait 30 years ago. all of them calling and saying federal employees get some much of this or that, that is not so. the only thing we get -- they went to this new performance system. if the supervisor likes you, no matter how much good work or what you do on the computer,
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they can't tell how much you put out of production, but if they like you they will give you a higher score and you get a raise. now what they are doing at the exchange, they are acting like, we got almost 500 people coming out as a cut on retirement of the new people coming in -- they did not get new benefits, they did not get the health insurance pay. so why would the people in the private sector one of the federal employees to make the unemployment rate so low when you ought to be thankful that people have a job. guest: thanks for calling and thanks for your service as a steward. such an important function in the union and we really appreciate your work. it sounds like you were one of the higher paid people ataffes -- a victorious the ploy. army air force exchange service. -- notorious employer. a big retail operation.
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it mirrors the employment practices of walmart. a lot of the people are paid right at the minimum wage, barely more than that. if they are able to participate in the health insurance plan a pretty much pay all of it themselves. it is a very difficult employment situation at aafes. again, it is very little attention just how modestly paid such a large portion of the federal work force is. >host: the turnover rate -- do you have a sense of what it is like question of guest: no, i am not really up to date on those figures. i know some people want to say the quit rate is a proxy for overpayment. if people do not quit that much, maybe they are overpaid. i think that is a nonsensical notion. not really address it. >> here is a chart from "usa today" which looks at the shrinking federal work force.
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you can see the numbers of federal work force. you points out it has increased under president obama. here is the thing from " examiner" in washington. president obama has hired 140,000 employees since taken office, 101 new staff members per day, according to "investors business daily." is this an increase. guest: laughably and accurate. there has never been an explosion and federal employment. these people who are being hired are being hired to replace people who retire. they will put an article in the newspaper talking about the world is coming to an end, federal employees retired are being replaced by new federal employees. somebody is actually going to take care of a veteran and a hospital, someone is the we to make sure your social security check be sent out. i did not think this is a problem.
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host: joe, independent. good morning. caller: i have something to say. what i am thinking is when the economy is going bad, some people, they always blame others for their problems. they make other scapegoats. my point is the company -- [indiscernible] if we really want to take care of the debt, i think everyone of us, i don't care, maybe from public sector or private sector, we have to contribute. we just have to contribute. instead of complaining. when i say we have to contribute, we have to pay a little bit more, a little bit taxes. host: you are saying everyone needs to contribute. caller: i mean everyone in the country. host: texas, independent line. hi, marty.
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caller: how are you this morning? my comments are kind of a reflection of what some other people have said. it seems like it has gotten very popular here in the next few years since the economy went down the, and so many people lost their jobs, to bash the federal and state employees, city employees, any kind of civil service type employees. and particularly going after the pension plans. and they want to lump all of these people, whether they are federal, state, or city, into one big categories and think everybody has these big lavish pension plans and they did not contribute to them. they don't understand that all of these pensions are as different as the cities are or the states are. i worked for a city for 28 years, and the least amount i ever contributed to my pension was over 9%.
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9% of my gross. host: let's get a response from jackie simon. guest: i think you bring up a really important points. the average federal and employee pension is just about $13,000 a year. hardly lavish. for people who also participate in social security where the average benefit is about $15,000 a year. we are not talking about anything remotely in the neighborhood of lavish. we are talking very modest, especially considering the high cost of federal employees are required to pay to maintain their health insurance. the other thing is, some of these studies that complain about the cost of providing a federal pension don't mention the fact that the reason it is a relatively costly for the federal government to provide the pension benefits that are comparable to other private employers is that the trust fund that is used to accumulate
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assets to pay out these benefits -- they can only be invested in treasury bonds, which have relatively low interest rates. they cannot invest in private equities. so they have to put in the put it more away because they are limited in their investments. so, it costs a little more on a current basis to save for these pensions. but as you point out, they are really extremely modest and federal employee used to pay for their pensions. host: jacqueline simon, public policy director of the american federation of publicly employees -- afl-cio, representing federal employees in the district of columbia. thank you. coming up next, the electorial knowledge me to later on today in just a few hours to ratify last month's presidential election. coming up, we will talk to professor james thurber on how it works and proposals to change it in the future. later on, our weekly "your money" segment looks at homeland
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security grants for states and how the money is being spent. but first, this news update from c-span radio. >> is spokesman for senator daniel in no way -- onouye says that ohio democrat the stable of new timetable for his release from walter reed. the spokesperson says the senator is fighting respiratory complications but is in stable condition and communicating with doctors and family. the 88-year old is the countries longest serving senator, now completing his 15th year in the chamber. turning to international news, gilled ellgood writing for reuters says each of the opposition is calling for nationwide protests against a constitution backed by prison morsi at after the vote exposed division. he won a 57% yes vote for the constitution in the first round of the referendum over the weekend, a margin less than what his party hope for.
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a discussion of the egyptian referendum is being hosted this morning by the brookings institution live the 1030 a.m. eastern time on c-span radio. president obama will be officially reelected today, as mentioned, as the electrolyte college meets to formally pass the state-by-8 vote that president obama won in the november 6 collection. the present a winning states totaling 332 a tour was what republican mitt romney one big states with a total of 206 electoral votes. even after the college vote, the next congress must formally record the of the perot vote to january 6 and formally declared the president of what. ohio's 18 electors cast their votes today at noon eastern time. you can hear it on c-span radio and we will talk about the next on "washington journal." those are some of the latest headlines from c-span reappearing -- c-span radio. >> the challenge for us is we want to be on every device for every person at every hour of
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the day. we are a mobile society. so, the challenge is to make sure we are on pads, computers, phones, as well as the traditional view wing which is in the living room. now on a wonderful high- definition television screen. the other challenge we have obviously is that spectrum is a finite resource. others want that a resource. and yet, there is not enough spectrum in the universe to do all of video by broadband peering so, the architecture of one to everyone in the location versus bears which is 1-to-one, their system will always failed because of simply the congestion of transmitting the video one- to-one. can't do that. >> "the and communicators" continues its look at television. gordon smith and 8:00 eastern on
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c-span2. "washington journal" continues. host: james thurber is our guest with the american university center for congressional and presidential studies of which he is the director and prof.. thank you for coming in today. guest: please to be here. host: you are here to talk about the electoral college. the election wrapped up over a month ago. why are we talking about the left for college and what happens today? guest: this is the next step in the election. the electoral process -- the electoral college is not a place but a process. today is the process where the electors get together in each state, and they go through a complex process. but it is generally managed by the secretary of state or some other officials, and they give their votes for the electors in that state for a particular president. president obama has 332 a tour college votes and romney has 206. so in the states where romney won those electors will vote for
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him. and in -- the next step is for them to send it to six different places in washington, d.c., but the main thing is they send a record of this to the senate. the senate than tallies them, put them in two mahogany boxes. one box and -- they ascended to the house of representatives where they officially open up the boxes and the elopes and at that point, cal to see who has won. >host: c-span will be covering the meetings in ohio and north carolina and coverage starts at noon eastern time with the ohio electoral college. 53rd meeting in columbus. you can watch the proceedings live from the ohio statehouse senate chamber on c-span 3. we will also be watching what carolina as it's a mature
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college meets and it is all on our website, other to find out more. james thurber, does anything unexpected happen when the of the torah, as day occurs? was of the voting process in november. our electoral college delegates committed? can anything different happen? guest: yes, something different happened. in 24 states they are required to vote the ticket that they are running on, these electors. so, they cannot be a faithless elector. we had nine cases since 1920 of them. one of them was actually here in washington, d.c., in 2000. she did not vote at all in protest over the fact that washington, d.c., does not have representation in congress. host: if you would like to talk with james thurber about the electoral college, here are the
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the origins of the electoral college. where did it come from and why do we have the system? guest: it goes right to the founding. the founders wanted to not have the congress to let the president. the also wanted also to reflect federalism and states' rights. so, they gained the right to the states to select the presidential candidate from each state. and so, the state in fact have the right to change the way they select the electors. in fact, in two state, nebraska and maine, they have proportional representation. meaning whoever wins in a particular congressional district gets that vote and whoever wins overall in the states get the two states. by the way, that is the electoral law college. 435 state representatives and
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senators and three in washington, d.c. if we went by strict proportional representation, some people think it would have changed the outcome of this election and other election -- no. if we have strict proportional representation, obama would have had 282 fewer electoral college votes ann romney would have more, 252, but obama would win .ecause you need 270 to wind - host: it was established in the 12th amendment, 530 electors in total. usually elected at state content -- conventions and approved by voters. majority of 270 of the tour votes are required to elect a president and vice president. the number of the state electors = one for each house member and two four senators the remote state except for maine and alaska have a winner-take-all system.
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contract -- maine and nebraska have a winner-take-all system. controversy -- how does it play out? because some of the criticisms of the electoral college is that it is really only the democracy in the world that does not have a popular vote for a present from a very powerful office. others that like the a look for a college feel that we would be urban-centric -- the urban areas and the big states, new york, california, and illinois, would have to much influence of a think there is a balance. others think that sent the candidates primarily go to these battleground states where it is too close the call to make of the 270 a look toward college votes, that the other states get ignored and it suppresses turnout of therefore it is not good for democracy. so, there have been many amendments over the years. not many recently.
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they stopped in 1979. there was only one attempted to build this last session, 113th congress, did not go anywhere. many amendments attempted -- many states have innovations which we can talk about later if you like. to change the way they count the votes. go to the phones and go to casey from atlanta, georgia. caller: good morning. and good morning to your guests. guest: good morning. caller: i believe that this conversation is sold and lightning and informative -- so enlightening and informative. professor thurber concern remember -- i believe 1988, in the state of west virginia, there was a democratic elector that was pledged for the
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democratic nominee, governor dukakis. that democratic elector, when it was time -- and because west virginia did go democrat that year -- i seem to recall that that democratic elector chose not to cast their vote for governor dukakis. and i did not believe this is one of the states where the elector was bound and required to support the nominee. i want to ask if you remember that particular situation. and also, in those states where there is no requirement, is there anything that could happen to an electeor for not testing the vote for the candidate they were obligated to support in the first place. and i want to thank you for your time. guest: thank you for your question. sounds like you are a historian. you got it right.
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there was a faithless elector in west virginia. nothing happened to the individual and except for the fact he could never be an elector again and obviously -- probably got marginalized within the democratic party for doing that. there are rules in 24 states that you are required by law to do this. of the 9 faithless elector, one was in west virginia. since 1920, none of those electors had affected the outcome of the election. what is the impact on the individual? they are ostracized from the party. they are pushed out of the party. they are not trusted any more. because it is a matter of trust when the parties select to the electors will be. you have an excellent memory, sir. host: karen from upper marlboro, maryland. independent line. caller: two questions.
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who picks the of the poor -- the electoral votes. and why is it not that the people -- [indiscernible] the tangible information we have an hour possession. we act like we are a country that is not a modernized country. in another country if it does not evoke they revote -- here the votes are not counted until later on. guest: request and a lot of people ask, especially when there is a close election that is a question a lot of people s, especially after a close election like 2000. selecting electors is done by the party organization in each state. they select people who are not public officials. that is in the law. they select people who represent
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the party, who are trusted. who are usually activists in the party, the democratic and republican party. third-party electors are rare, but that part of their selects them also and indeed there is a criticism of the system being one step away from the people. what you are really voting for going to the ballot are the electors for president obama on mitt romney. not necessarily collecting them or the vice presidential candidate. by the way, the votes by the electors are separate for the president and vice president. two votes. following north carolina -- it used to be for years, in north carolina, they do give them a blank card and they write the name of the winner on that and handed in. in some states you already printed and you just put an x by it.
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host: do we see any different procedure or ethos in states where president obama won biola pour college vote versus former governor mitt romney? does anything different happen? guest: i don't think so. but i do think there is a movement among the states for a reform. some states would like to have proportional representation. pennsylvania tried it, wisconsin started to do it this time. by the way, and nebraska has proportional representation and they have a bill pending in committee to get rid of it and have winner-take-all. but the main movement right now is for a national popular vote, interested come back. it sounds complex. it is a bunch of states saying we will pledge to vote this state, no matter what happened in the state, for the whatever wins the popular vote in the united states. they are a long ways away from it. 138 electoral college votes --
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maryland is one of them. california just came in. it seems like a movement towards that. so, it would be closer to the popular vote approach, which is more democratic in people's minds than this method. host: a viewer rights on twitter -- guest: district gerrymandering action does not make that much difference in this case. in california there are 55 and mature college votes. you could have a bunch of districts that are very states and even after of the redistricting in california -- it does not make any difference. if a presidential candidate wins by one vote, would take all, he gets all 53 congressional districts and two senate seats. host: did you hear any more or less talk this year leading up to the election of changing the electoral a college or perhaps
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doing away with it altogether? guest: there is always discussion, especially among those and academia and media, let's see if we can do away with it. it would take a constitutional amendment. it has not gone anywhere. it got to the floor of the house and senate a couple of times and it is it. the realist are saying let us let the states change it through the national popular vote, interested compaq for proportional representation. i see the future of this as the compact. before the election there was discussion about more stage joining that we could have a popular vote. host: alexandria, virginia, closed by to washington, d.c., and hear from republican, charles. caller: my memory may be a little fuzzy but i believe there was another situation of a so- called faithless elect gore, 1976, north carolina. i believe the elector voted for ronald reagan, who was not even
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on the ballot in 1976, which is entirely legal. most cannot understand that the elector has the power of attorney of the party and can legally vote for anybody they wish, bozo the clown, if they wanted. understand, people never mix the two together, but the electoral college combined with a front loaded primary system where iowa and new hampshire and the early states get influence over the nomination are in excess of the size of the volume and people in the united states, combined with the electoral college, these two institutions together a possibly part of the reason why the lack of interest in the election and low voter turnout. if the nomination process could
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go through some changes as well as the general election, we might have the case of the presidency being more closely identified with the people, higher turnout, and so one. thank you. guest: excellent points. it was the state of washington, by the way, where there was faithless elector who voted for ronald reagan because he liked him so much. yes, the nomination system in the united states, many people feel, need to reform. it is front loaded and a small rural state like iowa and eric cantor and north carolina. if you do not do well in those three, sometimes you are out of it. we saw it with romney this time, we saw it with obama -- we see it every time these early events in states that cannot represent
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the united states generally have an impact on the outcome of who gets the nomination there are a bunch of reforms -- that is another topic. another reform is to have reasonable primaries for parties, there for more diversity for people coming out and a candidate would have to reach out to more complex constituency. the third area of reform, as you know, is money in politics. if you took the primaries, campaign finance and electorial college and i was a dictator and that could change all of them i think we would have something closer to what some people would feel as a representative democracy directly to the people. host: also brings up what happened in 1976, on twitter. we are talking with james thurber, american univ. distinguished prof. of government. founder of the center for
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congressional and presidential studies and the editor of the journal "congress and the presidency." here is the head line at "the washington post" fed page. josh hicks reports -- guest: i just got back from china, and we talked about the electoral college there, and a state that have a problem with freedom, you know, and democracy. they can't figure it out. i tried to explain to them and
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they still wonder why do we still have this if we were this representative democracy and the people have their way. very interesting. host: how did you answer the question? guest: i tried to explain the foundation. the fact we have federalism and states have power and in this particular case it is the power to select a president. they did not want congress to do it. but they still cannot buy it, i don't think. host: on twitter -- asking to explain the historical justification and why do we need it now. guest: the justification for it at the founding was they did not want congress to make the selection of the president. they wanted to take away from the capital where maybe chicanery would occur and people would do deals. they wanted to respect the federal election run a ban and national election. it was very explicit in the
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debate. and then there was changed that they brought in to washington d.c. and they expanded the basis of it. basically, if was a way to protect small states, but also to protect federalism and to not have a situation like a parliament, where in the united kingdom the house of commons selects the prime minister. they did not want congress doing out here. ont: let's hear from robert the democrat's line copy -- and democrats line. caller: are you related to the writer robert berber. and secondly, which you need -- would you need to have a license for federally related issues? >> -- guest: very few people even know who the cartoonist james thurber
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is. yes, he is a cousin of mine. to change the constitution you need an amendment to the constitution and that is why it is almost impossible to get it through. that is why the alternative for the states to come up with a compact that affectively then becomes a basis of a popular vote for the selection of the president's. host: the history of winning the electoral college, but losing the electoral vote cannot -- a vote, how significant is about one? guest: it has happened three or four times. let me explain. three times, and the last one was in 2000 when bush lost the electoral college vote -- host: the popular vote. guest: yes, sorry. and he won the electoral college vote.
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there were also a couple of other times in the 1800's. 1824 is listed as one of those times. there, they had six states where the state legislature selected who the president would be. and we do not really know who the popular vote was. host: and in 1876 are rutherford b. hayes. and in 1888, benjamin harrison guest: 1824, it was john quincy adams over a andrew jackson. it was controversial and went into the house of representatives and they selected john adams. host: what is the history of this when there was not so much severity between the electoral vote and the part of a vote? guest: history shows the people were outraged for a few months and then they went on with their lives and we had a president. in 2000, everybody accepted the
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outcome of the election because it went to the supreme court in a 5-4 decision. they selected president bush and it was a time frame where we went on and he governed and people upset about. it is the form of democracy we have and it has a certain amount of stability. that is another positive aspect. host: ben is our caller from california, republican line. caller: to to get into the studies of presidential studies, are you part of the electoral college? and the other thing is, if the electoral college specifically not made up of anybody in that specific political foreground? like governors, or x governors,
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anybody who would be lobbyists? is it mostly academia? is that why it is called a college? like you would know better than the public? is it that you understand who the president is altogether? guest: first, and not part of the electoral college. the term college and green. it is not associated with a university or college or academics. there is a role that people in public office may not serve as electors of former public -- as allowed stores. a former public officials can. there may be lobbyists or activists within either party. generally, they are citizens of both parties think are upstanding, that are highly respected, at the kalla, and
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they get selected. it is really an honorific thing to be selected within their state. and then they get to vote for the winner of the state. host: mike on twitter wants to know what happens when an electron device between elected and the and let -- between the election and the, the electoral college vote. guest: there is a process through the party organization of selected them in the first is to make sure that person is selected as the next up store. -- the next electora andnt. host: next caller, good morning. caller: with the electoral college, it does trouble me because any elected person can be bought woodbury --
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with bribery. they can be bought with u.s. currency. having people elected at an electoral college, having them in a position where they could be put in a position by corporations, elected by heads of corporations or people connected are of these corporations to represent these corporations and a let the officials. guest: that is a wider topic of our our form of democracy, which is a pluralist democracy. we are allowed to organize and efficient government. sometimes people with money have more impact. sometimes people like martin of the king who did not have a lot of money, but charisma and a well-organized group can influence government.
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when it comes to the electoral system, very few cases, i cannot think of anywhere the individuals have signed -- tayba qassam copps -- had some ethical cloud over them. the parties to select them. the parties are sometimes influenced by interest like labor, but they are not there because they've tried to get there. and they cannot be breivik when they are there. -- because they have been tried to get there. and they cannot be bribed when they are there. the norm for the estate is to vote the way the people in the day voted. host: the electoral college in ohio will have its 53rd meeting. how open will the process be? our last caller was worried about bribery or being influenced. do we get to diyala stores --
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do we actually get to see the light source that are put forward? guest: there are speeches by public officials about the day. in ohio, 18 electoral college votes. they were very important in this election. loss of campaigning there. c-span was there covering it. it is great when you are covering this stage of the election. the democrats will vote for president obama because he won in ohio. host: and we will also be looking at north carolina. john in georgia on the independent line. good morning. caller: my father was the
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director of social security under lyndon johnson. and he worked in that position until he died, almost from working so hard. we have some incredibly powerful dynamics working in this country there are ripping the foundation of our nation apart. and i just use the word "you folks," but my brother at one time was our hund of the wall street -- al hunt of the "wall street journal." but at the hill has no idea of the anger of the hillbilly crowd, i will put it that way. they are so disconnected. our senators and congressmen in the state of georgia have not got a clue.
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and we have a corps of engineers that has decimated the financial and infrastructure of kent county oleson tamara berg with their boston -- kent county along the savannah river with their bombastic, dictatorial actions for the people there. the electoral college is symptomatic of a larger problem. let me finish up with this. i know the command sergeant major of the marine corps of the united states of america retired. i will not say his name, but i saw him for months before the election and george bush would not even see harold. they picked barack obama because he has been sold to the middle east, oil cartel as a fellow muslim for the benefit of
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the federal reserve so that there continues to be exclusivity in the world business. -- the oil business. host: one thing we can say about the to clarify your comments, the president is not a muslim. in fact, he clarified his? rich brody of a bit yesterday at the interfaith -- he clarified his spirituality a little bit yesterday at the interfaith event he attended. here is a tweet. guest: democracy is like in the house of representatives were you vote for an individual directly on the ballot and they get elected and go into office. it is a two-stage event that is unique in the world. that is one of the reasons it is controversial. we are electing representatives in the electoral college to then select the president.
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it is an elitist thing. by the the founders were not worried about the masses not being educated enough and been swayed by campaigns. they wanted this elite group of people to select a president. and in some cases, for many years it was the state legislature that did it and not these collectors. -- the select course -- these electors. host: ronald, go ahead. caller: a lot of these states with elektra colleges are basically insolvent. i do wonder if the -- if there is a remedy to not hold such jurisdiction or robert elections -- over power in elections but maybe percentage.
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maybe we of all them to go forth for whichever candidates it might be. -40 democrats, then maybe the democrats would have control. it seems like they should not have out loud a voice as the states should have. i wonder what it would take to do something or if that is even feasible. guest: a majority of the states have rules will have to balance a budget. the top six or seven states in the electoral college, california with 53, tx 38, illinois 29, are all solvent as far as i know. some states are struggling. california is struggling.
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but by god, they ought to balance their budgets -- but by loughner -- but by law, they have to balance their budgets. making them insolvent would not take the state of play. host: mets looked the electoral college scouts. -- khost. thomas is our last caller for james thurber. he's on the democrat's line prepared -- line. host: -- caller: door guesstimate the, the of these things golan -- your guest made the comment about these things go on and people get over them. i do not think people get over them. part of what is going on now is that people did not get over
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what happened in 2000. i am one of the people that things that majority should rule and basically, to leave it in the hands of the supreme court is wrong. it is a pick court. somebody picked those be " better on that court. -- those people that are on the court. it is a weak system. it is not fair. host: thomas, what would you do to make it more fair? how would you change it? caller: i would go back to, like i say, the constitution says that is a republic for the people and are the people. that should be the last and final say. guest: one way to do that is to have proportional representation within the states. california was proportional representation, it would have
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been about 60% of the electoral votes -- electorate in california would have been for obama and 40% would have been for mitt romney. there will be continued pressure to do this interstate compact for a national popular vote. there is an organization pushing it. there are states that are agreeing to it. even if a state-supported romney, if the winner of the popular vote is president obama, they would vote in that state for president obama. there are states that are agreeing to it. if you have a compact with arctic constitutional amendment, i would be a way out of it. -- without a constitutional limit,
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that would be a way out of it. host: james thurber also serves as distinguished professor of government appoint a american university. c-span will be broadcasting ohio pose the electoral college gathering at noon on c-span3. you can find it all of our website coming up next, our weekly, your money segment exec haleh of security grant going on to state and how about -- looks at homeland security grants and how about money is going. >> the center joe manchin in remarks in d.c. said it is time to move action on regulation following the school shooting in connecticut but killed 20 children.
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he also says that he agrees with york city mayor michael bloomberg who advocates planet -- banning the sale of assault weapons. he says he is a product outdoorsman and hunter, but this does not make sense. senator manchin is a lifelong member of the nra. south carolina gov. mickie lee plans to announce her choice to replace senator jim demand, who is resigning to become the head of the heritage foundation. they will fill in in two weeks until 2014 when voters will determine someone to fill the maine -- the remaining term. turning to an attack in van ghazi, an independent report of the killing of the u.s. ambassador to libya proceedings and three other americans will be presented to -- christopher stevens and three other americans will be
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presented today. that report will be presented to members of congress this week before a private briefing on wednesday. also, the house foreign affairs committee holds a hearing on the report this thursday, december 20 with testimony from state department deputy bill burns. secretary clinton was to appear but is recovering from a concussion. those are the headlines on c- span radio. >> the ohio electoral college meets in columbus, ohio and and in eastern today to cast the buckeye state's 18 electoral votes for president obama. you can see the proceedings live from the senate chamber. you can watch the proceedings live on c-span3. everything will be held today on
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raising the medicare eligibility age to 67 years old and its effects. that will be alive today on c- span2. >> "washington journal" continues. host: on mondays at this time we look at your money is, how the programs spent and who the program's benefits. our guest this morning is david maurer. and we're talking about, and security grant. what are they? guest: there are a suite of grants that they provide mainly to state governments to prevent terrorist attacks and natural disasters. host: give us some details. are they very differentiated? is there an overarching vision of the mall? guest: dari wide number of
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grants. it varies from year to year. the largest grants are considered formula grants to go to states and urban areas to prevent a terrorist attack or natural disaster. altogether, the federal government spends a lot of money on these programs. as much as $30 billion since 9/11. host: we are talking about $38 billion awarded since the 2002 through 2011. why is all of us from washington? guest: that is rooted in the whole issue of federalism. the concept is that local government should the media responders to the -- any sort of incident. if they cannot handle it, it should go to state government and state government can handle it, they should go to the federal government for help. these grants are to bolster state and local government to handle problems on their own without having to reach back to the fence. host: what goes into
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determining whether or not the grants have been successful? guest: that has been a problem from day one with these grant programs could in the work that we have done at gao over the years we have found some significant challenges in the department of homeland security's ability to see whether these grants are making a difference. host: how does gao step in and get involved? give us an idea of their role in examining how federal dollars are spent, especially in this regard guest: diego was part of the u.s. congress. we are an independent nonpartisan -- gao, is part of the u.s. congress. we are an independent nonpartisan agency and we are to oversee how they spend money. we do work on congressional committees as well as under legal mandates and under law. those direct us to do the studies, however, we independently report those studies to the congress and the american public. host: here is a recent story coming to us from the open of baltimore sun --
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the story is talking about a study that is different than the one gao did. the was led by senator coburn. one study found that there was $8 million in homeland security grants given to one state. you can see what they did with their money.
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and they bought an armored truck with a rotating gunter to using a common security money. justification? guest: who decides what to spend money on? the concept that the local community will be better positioned to choose -- to decide and the federal government will stay out about, one of the problems is that you end up with results like this. the report also point out that local communities in new hampshire also bought or merged vehicles -- and armored vehicles that were ind to protect festivals' columbus, ohio they used the money to buy an underwater machinery. host: and in the kansas city, they purchased in bomb detection -- a bomb detection robots despite
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already having two. it sat largely unused and was brought back on line are high schoolers. let's go to our first caller. from the breezy and appeared -- from louisiana. caller: the u.s. territories, do they applied to them guest: they apply to all of federated territories as well. in some areas, there are statutory minimum amounts that have to be provided to those territories. host: if you like to join the conversation and talked to david maurer about a homeland security grants to states, here are the numbers to call.
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what formula did the grant programs follow went looking to get out the money? what do they have to do? guest: it varies from program to program, but generally speaking, as a first cut, dhs takes into consideration the risk. in other words, it wants to provide the money more toward portions of the country where there is a greater risk of attack or natural disaster. secondly, we look at capabilities. how capable are the state and local governments already. those that are less capable should get additional funding. and third, they look of the types of project that we are applying -- but they are applying for. the state and local governments do not apply untypically for specific projects, but sometimes a package of projects. host: jim in indiana on the democrat's line.
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since: i'm wondering, this past school shooting why we are not able to aggressively put metal detectors before the entry to a school. like the prison systems do. you cannot get inside with a gun. but a few aggressively approach somebody on the outside where they have to go through a metal detector before they can even reach a building, why don't we think of something like that to prevent people from getting inside to kill our guest: kids that is a very topical question -- to kill our kids? guest: that is a very topical question, given what has just happen. there are programs typically provided by jurisdictions. they make different decisions of
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rafa security procedures are adopted at local schools. it varies across the country. he host: regression from tax. -- here is a question from tax. how much are we wasting these funds? guest: that is a good question. there is not a good framework in place to determine whether or not someone is doing a good job with the money or a bad job. some of the examples that we talked about earlier in the show would seem to indicate issues, or spending that is not in the best interest of the taxpayer. but globally speaking, fema and more broadly in the department of homeland security, we have not developed a framework to measure the success or failure. that makes it difficult. host: let's go to jean in new hampshire. caller: i was just asking where the money comes from.
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where does that come from, the millions of dollars in waste? host: do you want to be more specific? caller: the conferences, the gao conferences. guest: that is a good question. let me make something clear right off. there was a scandal with conferences. there was a fellow agent in the general services at agency, the gsa. the gao was not involved in that. but more broadly, when it comes to these conferences, many of the programs to allow presidents to purchase paid in conferences. the concept is -- allow participants to participate in conferences. the concept is that state and local governments are tracking those expenditures to make sure they are done appropriately.
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host: one of the grants that have been used by dhs with a halo counter-terrorism summit in 2012. it was held at the paradise point resort on an island outside san diego. it was a five-day summit and was deemed allowable by dhs. it talks about a luxury area and then it goes through and details other things that were happening at this. the marquee event was the highly anticipated apocalypse demonstration. and there was a zombie-driven show designed to simulate a real live terrorism event. guest: it is interesting to find our what federal taxpayer money goes toward.
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i have a lot of questions about that. but it is an illustrative example of a who allows -- who decides where the money is spent. the willoughby of the federal level or the local level? this assumption that was decided a the local level. the way this typically works is that the recipient of the money generally informs dhs what they're going to spend the money on. they will say, we will have a conference or an exercise. they do not typically report specifically what they spend the money on a job afterward. this can be a problem. host: here is a tweet saying, homeland security grant is just a modern day term for your marks. sharing his opinion. go to pat. caller: you stole my thunder with those of the question because that was mine. but are also interested if you
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can put on a zombie demonstration and be precluded from putting on a jihadist muslim scenarios. is the politically incorrect? guest: generally speaking, there are a number of different training exercises conducted diyala across the state and local and federal levels at a variety of different areas. you want to make sure they aren't prepared an exercise cultural sensibilities -- sensitivities. -- that they are prepared and exercise cultural sensitivities. but you want to make sure they are realistic scenarios. host: laura asks, why is it anything done after the issuance of gao reports? guest: in most cases, action is taken in response to our
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recommendations. one of the things that we track globally as a percentage of our recommendations that are implemented. every year, it is about 75%, which is a good track record. more specifically to the realm of dhs grand program and a report that was issued in 2011, we recommended to congress that it consider cutting funding for dhs grant programs until dhs is better prepared to determine the overall impact and success of the programs. congress took us up on that. host: next call from indiana. caller: i would ask c-span to urge triland to come back to fridays. we miss him much. -- brian wham to come back to fridays. we miss him very much. it seems we are on collapse over of a security that we are being provided with, whether the marines, navy, coast guard, fbi, cia, and s.a., a local police
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enforcement, code enforcement, sheriff, highway patrol, national guard, airport and transportation security, board patrol, fire marshal -- i mean, is an over abundance. we have become a police state and it has destroyed the fabric of our society. i do not see how we will get out-of-pocket -- out of it puritans -- and i do not see how we will get out of it. i do not see how home and security is going to save us. guest: there is a veritable alphabet soup of all these to organizations that are designed to address a wide to -- wide variety of security issues at the federal level and local level as well as overseas. and congress, just on the street from the studios we are in today, are talking about the fiscal cliff and how much money the government should spend on security matters.
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that is an important part of the conversation. host: david maurer is part of the hollen security office. let's -- homeland security office. let's look at a couple of the key areas in the grant program. one is the state security grant program. and the other is urban areas prepared -- urban areas initiative. guest: the concept is fema will determine what capabilities to the states need to change. what level are they at? what money should go to fund the gaps? but the states make the decisions about what localities get the money and what the lookout is will spend it on. the urban program is designed specifically to address terrorism threats and is designed to help multiple jurisdictions in urban areas to prepare for and respond to
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terrorist attacks. a large portion of the oregon populations in the u.s. -- of the urban population is in the u.s. are multinational, whether in washington d.c. -- like washington, d.c. and we need to know how to respond to terrorism. host: in this figure, we see some of the biggest states in red. california and new york, and then the color scheme goes down from their depending on how much money they've gotten parents why california -- they've gotten. why california and new york? is it because they are such big urban areas? guest: it is a combination of daud and also because of the world trade center bombing. it is a major terrorist target.
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in california, you have a large population centers. you also have one of the largest and most important ports in the long beach area. there is another program specifically designed to enhance port security. host: $98,000 was spent on an underwater robot in columbus, ohio. is it harder for urban areas outside of metropolitan areas to justify the grants and find ways to use them? are there hurdles in getting money or not? guest: generally speaking, it tends to go to the larger jurisdictions, because as you would imagine, those are the ones at the greatest risk and potential targets for terrorists. most of the money would go to places like new york, chicago, miami, los angeles, dallas, places like that. however, over the years, some
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smaller areas have been able to receive some money. columbus is an illustrative case of that. host: barbara on the independent line. caller: there have been security breaches at nuclear plants. people coming in that were not employees. what kind of funds are going to be provided for states with nuclear plants against terrorism attacks? guest: that is one of the key focuses of dhs grants, as you correctly point out. a nuclear facility presents a tempting target for potential terrorist attack. the good news is that dhs is aware of that and is working to help state address that. the nuclear regulatory commission is also involved to an extent. and the department of energy's
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tom hund plays a role. -- department of energy sometimes plays a role. host: if you recognize that there is a need in your community, can you get the security in the area? guest: at the local level, you can work through your local government and raise it up to the states government to say, we think there is a viable need here and we should request grant funding from the dhs. there's something called the administrative agency. they are the ones that face directly with dhs. they apply for the funds and manage the funds and get them to the locals. host: independent caller, rick. a a caller: are there sunset provisions for these grants? so that they are non recurring
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problems, if they are a problem? and if they are meaningful, they can go on? guest: that is a good question. as a general proposition, all of these grants have been authorized into law. every year, congress makes some slight adjustments and the focus of the fund, sometimes they combine programs into larger programs and so forth. after dhs has provided money to the states and the state's hand it to the local communities, we typically have about five years for them to spend the money. if they do not spend it with in those five years, in theory, it should come back to the federal government. host: mike on the democrat's line. caller: hello, and thanks for taking my call. the reason i'm calling is, the republicans have been talking about government being too big. and they've been targetting the
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entitlement program. here is a program, or a division of our government, that was started by the republican party. it was started after 9/11 under george w. bush. if we already have the fbi and the cia. why do we need this department? guest: that is a great question and it meets up with a policy discussion. after 9/11, you probably remember there was an impetus and desire to bring together all of the homeland security functions that were scattered across the federal government and to combine them into a single department. it is still an open question, whether or not that has had -- how much of an overall benefit that has had in the last 10 years or so. at gao, one of the things we have consistently pointed to is that it is a work in progress, in terms of becoming a single,
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unified department. it is also important to recognize the since 9/11, the federal government has dramatically increased its capability to prevent, respond to, and recover from terrorist attacks, as well as natural disasters. there are some benefits. it is a good and viable policy question to talk about the overall structure and how it is organized. host: david maurer from the department of, and security office. we're looking at homeland security grants for states. they have been around for a decade now, since 2002. the dhs has per -- has offered states money to respond and recover from terrorist incidents. we were talking about the high- tech device the columbus, ohio god. and would also see in montgomery, -- that ohio got. and we also see in montgomery
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county, texas, a drone. if you have a drone that goes under water, like in columbus, and it can be done to aid in an underwater search and rescue event, it might not be related to terrorism. guest: many of these things are designed to be what dhs calls "all hazards. or they could be used to respond to a terrorist incident, but also to search and rescue and abroad for some purposes. there multi-purpose, in many cases. -- they are multi-purpose in many cases. when dhs makes the decisions to provide the money, they do not know specifically what the money is going to be spent for. the local community may communicate through the city government that they will enhance their search and rescue kibo adis. dhs will see that and say, that is an allowable use. -- search and rescue capabilities. dhs will see that and say, that is an allowable use.
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after they have spent the money, then they will see out is spent. host: chris, go ahead. caller: my question is from the fusion centers. it seems like we do not know the argos of things like guest: i honestly do not know how much has been spent for fusion centers across the country. but i do know there has been as dramatic increase of these. for those who do not know what they are, they are places where representatives from a variety of state and local law- the argos of thingsenforcement agene together and share information to help prevent terrorist attacks as well as other criminal events. there is a dramatic increase in
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these fusion centers arthur 9/11. one of the problems was a lack of coordination. many of these agencies are typically involved. there are many funding streams to help finance their operation. a lot of that money has come through dhs grant programs, but it does come from other sources as well host: the next call comes from baltimore, miller -- as well. host: the next call comes from baltimore, maryland. caller: i have a question for david maurer. is he on there now? host: yes, he is. caller: i have a grandson with his master's degree in homeland security. where does he go to fill out applications to work for homeland itself and not these subcontractors that would pave minimal wage?
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-- that paid minimum wage? guest: one place he can go is the overall federal website to apply for a variety of jobs, which isn't and he can look add -- which is the socialook at security administration, the coast guard. host: have you looked at whether they are getting a bang for their buck? guest: in december, we issued a report on the subject and found the route that dhs was among the lowest across the federal government. but it is a large apartment, over 230,000 people. there are important variations
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within dhs. host: we're looking earlier a federal agencies and how they rank in terms of job satisfaction. here is federal worker satisfaction level from the "washington times." the department of homeland security getting a level of 56. and the national archives and records administration is out the bottom. next up is from south carolina, independent caller. caller: good morning. naturally, our hearts go on to all of the victims in connecticut. i would like to ask the gentleman why go on to all of the is it always
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called terrorism when it is someone within the islamic name. [indiscernible) they take a microscope and pick apart the persons close. but when someone who is islamic does that, the whole community is responsible. we are taught that jesus loves all the children of the world. and how you can think about all these children being slaughtered in these senseless warscalled tk and awe, and all of these cruise missiles, you do not even know who these people -- these missiles are hitting. guest: certainly, there's no doubt of what happened just a few days ago was terrible and violent and tragic. and there are not appropriate words to put a label on what happened in connecticut.
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the nation is morning as a result of that horrible day. host: our caller talked about terrorism. you've already given some information about how these grants are justified and whether they pertain to preventing a terrorist threat or can be more general per -- multipurpose. cardoza dhs look at this -- think about terrorism, a definition, when it looks at its mission? guest: they take a rather broad look at terrorism. it is basically, any action designed with a political content in mind. those are the instances it is designed to protect against. as a practical matter, a number of the programs purchased can be used for terrorism as well as
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natural disasters. host: let's go to anchorage, alaska. larry is an independent. caller: let's assume the public is cynical about government spending, and we can probably assume that. doesn't homeland security run the risk of a public looking upon the grants as just a storehouse of wealth for government contractors that have already done so well with the pentagon and others over the years? is that a concern for the apartment? the public cynicism -- for the department, the public's cynicism? guest: that is a good question and that is something the department is certainly concerned about prepare they are taking actions to -- concerned about. they are taking actions to
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better position the dhs to tell the public how the money is being spent. we have identified a problem in a number of prior reports -- we spent billions on these programs and dhs those not have a good framework for determining where capability started, where they are now, and where they need to be. host: also, in a report by senator tom coburn, we talk to our he has been critical of what he considers to be waste in these homeland security grants. has there been a backlash? larry from anchorage talk about the public scrutiny looking with the a lot of skepticism. guest: i think it is important that these kinds of inefficiencies are pointed out. oversight is important. i think taxpayers have a right to know what their money is being used for. different and reasonable people can take this information and come up with different conclusions.
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that is the democratic process. it is important to have senator coburn publishing reports like that and it is important for the g-8 joke -- the gao to publish the results of our oversight. host: in michigan, lawrence is a democrat prepared -- a democrat. caller: as far as all the security and coverage that we have for mental health issues, will there be any more money coming from homeland security for mental health issues? we need better coverage. host: lawrence, before we let you go, do you have any sense how your local community uses, and security grant? what michigan does with the money gets from the federal government?
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caller: i do know we have politicians the do their best. what exactly do, i'm not sure. guest: the issue of mental health is certainly a major one facing the u.s. ran out and what happened with the tragic incidents as last week underscored the need some for mental health. -- the need for mental health. health and human services, hhs, has units that help state allen local communities address their mental health issues. host: do citizens generally have an idea what their states are using the homeland security grants for? is it on the website or their clearing houses? guest: we issued a report earlier this year that looked specifically at that question on
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the perspective of dhs. after dhs provides the money, do they know what it spent on? in many cases, no, they do the . different states handle it in different ways. it is difficult to find. host: let's go to the republican line. good morning. caller: while we saved a lot of taxpayer money and do what other countries do, we can bring some of our troops home, we can keep them training for action. we can put small frogs on our border, like along the border with mexico. guest: you raise a valid point about securing the southwest border. the four operating basis, fobs,
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is a military term. the border patrol organization is responsible for carrying out the function. and they do of thousands of border patrol personnel along the southwest border, as a lot -- as well as along the border with canada to perform that function. a number of former philips -- military folks come back and serve as a border patrol agencies -- agents and another number of capacities pierpon. host: here is a tweet. guest: there are many different organizations that are receiving these funds and performed a number of functions. one of the viral things that we are always asking to dhs from our perspective as gao is, are you making efficient use of
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those moneys? if they are wasting resources, that could be of interest to the gao. host: have you looked at the money is given out to states that are also running their own federal program? guest: these programs are brought in terms of their purpose. they overlap in terms of who can actually receive funds at the state and local levels. it raises the possibility of a risk of duplication of effort. in other words, the left-hand of fema may not know what the right hand is doing. in some cities could receive funding from the same pot for the same thing. host: let's go to order in virginia. caller: good morning. the terrorism the started with 9/11 has seemed to make us
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become victims. look at the internal terrorism never severed last week. a lot of the house to do with the -- -- we suffered last week. a lot of that has to do with the pollution that our kids suffer killing oriented, should be oriented. host: arthur, you live in california and we saw on this map that california gets the most money for security in initiatives in dhs funds. do you think that california should get a lot of money? do you think the state is the best decision -- and best place to make the decision of what to do with it? caller: yes, in cooperation with the federal level. but you should not have to just
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create another bureaucracy nabhan not produce results regarding safety, especially internal safety -- that will not produce results regarding safety, especially internal safety. guest: terrorism is a problem that has plagued the u.s. for many years. it certainly did not start with the attacks of 9/11. people remember the oklahoma city bombing in the 1990's, the first world trade center bombing in 1993. there were other attacks in the 1980's. dhs has stood up in the past to provide a more comprehensive and systematic approach toward addressing the threat of terrorism one of the challenges that always faces the dhs is that if they do their job perfectly and they do need well, no one will ever notice they are actually there. in other words, if there is never another terrorist attack against the united states, is it because dhs is doing a good job, or because of other factors? or because of other factors? it is


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